Conditions of Struggle
Each of the following reading packages was prepared by AAD collective members for the Conditions of Struggle education series. Each package includes a description of the topics and discussion questions for each meeting.
In the 1970s and 80s, a turn began in North American feminism when Black women unsettled the racist tendencies of mainstream white feminists and highlighted an “intersectional” approach to struggles for women’s gender liberation that explicitly articulated the interconnections between systems of oppression (e.g., racism, colonialism, imperialism, sexism, heterosexism, trans-antagonism, ableism, classism, ageism, antisemitism, etc.). This turn opened feminism to more critiques and challenges – queer theory, trans politics, and Indigenous feminisms, among others. Indigenous feminisms in particular have shaken the “three waves” history of feminist struggle by grounding North American feminism in Indigenous women’s anti-colonial resistance. This rich legacy of struggle for gender liberation challenges us to centre a gender lens of analysis in all of our social justice fights, including AAD’s campaigns against displacement and dispossession.
In June 2016, Alliance Against Displacement held a public forum “Reconcile This!” that addressed the tensions between social movement demands to “redistribute wealth” downwards with the fact that in a settler-colonial society, that wealth has been stolen from Indigenous nations. This event asked, “is the solution to this problem simply to redistribute that stolen wealth downwards?” and it challenged us to imagine struggles against displacement and poverty also lining up behind Indigenous-led struggles against colonial dispossession. Some questions we will ask include: How exactly are capitalism and dispossession related? What are some Indigenous experiences of dispossession? Why does capitalism require a continued attack on Indigenous ways of living?
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Anti-austerity is a pillar of Social Housing Alliance’s work. The economic forces of displacement, we say, are a real estate and resource extraction based economy that storms on Indigenous and working-class communities while austerity policies erode the ground on which we stand, making us more vulnerable to these winds. But what is austerity and how do we fight it? For nearly three years Social Housing Alliance has battled austerity policies in British Columbia with a focus on cuts to social housing funding. We have seen policies shift away from tax-funded and government-run housing to market-based “innovative” non-solutions to homelessness. And we have seen many groups that used to see tax-funded social housing as basic to society in Canada begin to tolerate and even advocate for models that include and rely on market logics. Is austerity top-down primarily, a problem of government policy alone, or does it have social and cultural roots and resonance?
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These two proposed classes hope to sustain a conversation about the implications of the “2014-15 Black uprising” in North America (centred in the U.S.) for an antidisplacement movement in British Columbia. Readings include Black authors writing with movements that predate events in Ferguson as well as recent articles and posts by organizers from Ferguson and nationwide. A major challenge in this class series is to think about institutions of whiteness in Western Canada, where systems of white supremacy have historically excluded Black communities from settling, and from being imagined or discussed as part of society. Readings also include Black authors from Canada who grapple with the questions of Canadian racism, and some news articles that highlight manifestations of anti-Black racism in Canada.
Read more and download reading packages here.
Special reading package
The “Housing Crisis is Global” forum, co-organized by the Chinatown Action Group and Alliance Against Displacement in the fall of 2016 seeks to present anti-imperialist perspectives to the foreign investment myth by building a critique that acknowledges Canada’s role as an imperialist country in a global market. This critique weaves together three main themes: 1) British Columbia as a settler province constructed through the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their lands, an ongoing act of dispossession that constitutes the first “foreign invasion;” 2) the history of anti-Asian racism in BC, and the role anti-Asian racism plays in the current foreign investment myth; and 3) the role of private property and global capital in the current crisis, as well as alternatives for both understanding and building solutions to the housing crisis in BC.